CLEVELAND -- A trade spared CC Sabathia the awkwardness of plotting to leave Cleveland as a free agent, which might have helped and made the reception "very mixed" when the left-hander started at Progressive Field last season wearing Yankees gray.
That is preferable -- of course -- to what LeBron James will likely be hearing the next time he sets foot within city limits, Sabathia agreed. He had not yet seen the bare downtown building that once showcased a huge mural of the NBA star, but thought it would be a strange sight.
"It had been up there for a while," Sabathia said.
That might be the oddest part about the whole experience of starting against the Tribe on Tuesday for Sabathia, who considers taking the mound here to be mostly old hat at this point.
The uniforms and stadium personnel might be familiar, but even moreso than when he won in Cleveland last May 30, the Indians for whom Sabathia won a Cy Young Award are mostly gone.
"Even last year, I didn't really know a lot of guys," Sabathia said. "They had traded a bunch of guys, and it really wasn't the same roster. I didn't really feel any different. It's still a little weird coming in through the players' parking lot and walking down, and coming into this [visiting] clubhouse, but as far as facing that team, I think it's just like facing any other team."